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Is your profile picture costing you a job?

Posted: 22/11/2011 5:00:00 AM by Mining Oil and Gas Jobs
Filed under: Job-seekers, Oil-and-gas, Recruitment, Career-resources

Are you having trouble getting an interview? Is so, maybe your profile photo is letting you down. In a previous post about contact details, we discussed how employers and hiring managers are under no obligation to employ anyone. They often use arbitrary indicators to make snap decisions about whether a candidate is worth pursuing. This weeding out happens early in the employment process when hundreds of resumes are submitted for just a few jobs. Your profile picture could be the reason you’re never getting a call.

Social media and work

We’re living in a digital age and both jobseekers and employers are taking advantage of that. Australia’s social media usage for October 2011, shows significant activity on sites popular with jobseekers.
  • 10,659,580 Facebook users
  • 1.8 million Twitters users
  • 2.2 million LinkedIn users
That’s a whole lot of profile pictures.

Warning signs

Last week the Wall Street Journal profiled James Dinnison, a 25-year-old employee working in an underground gold mine in Australia. While the photo used in the article was a true representation, it probably wouldn’t have helped him get the job where he makes $200,000 a year. Why?
  • He looks like he’s going to a party, not to work.
  • Sunglasses hide his face.
  • An older, more conservative hiring manager could object to tattoos.

Common mistakes

While the points above may seem obvious, more subtle reasons may be eliminating you from the pool of candidates.
  • Photos taken with your webcam or smart phone don’t cut it. The lighting is bad and your expression is likely to be unnatural.
  • Cropping your image out of a group photo leaves an impression something is missing.
  • For women, using a photo taken at a special occasion is dangerous. Strapless dresses or blouses with spaghetti straps will make you appear naked when used in a headshot.
  • Photos with other people in it – like your partner or children – could leave the impression you’re a dependent personality.
  • Pets in profile photos are a bad idea unless you’re a zookeeper, working with police dogs or blind.
  • Illustrations or avatars are not recommended as they may give a sense you’re hiding something.


  1. Get your profile photo taken by a professional photographer. It’s a small investment with the potential for a big return. 
  2. Wear clothing similar to what you’ll wear in your job. If you’re a tradesman, an open-necked polo shirt will seem more authentic than a suit and tie. If you’re interviewing for a professional role, skip the photo taken in your board shorts and thongs.
  3. For women, avoid heavy make-up or elaborate hairdos in your photo. Try to appear in the photo as you would on a normal day job.

When you’re looking for a job, make sure your profile photo best represents you in your working life. Consider what role you’re applying for and make sure the image you’re using in social networking supports that role. Err on the side of conservatism. Once you have secured a job, you can express your personality in your profile photo. Remember, hiring managers may be looking at hundreds of candidates for one role. A poor photo choice may be the reason they eliminate you from consideration.

For more information, read Getting Your Social Media Profiles Ready for a Job Hunt in our Careers and Industry Guide.

What’s your opinion on profile photos?

Image credit: John W. Miller/The Wall Street Journal

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